INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—When people think of Indianapolis food or even the staple restaurants that just scream “Indy,” one of the first places that comes to mind is often St. Elmo Steak House.
But now they’ve got some big competition, because Indiana’s very own Cake Bake Shop is about to get the ultimate celebrity endorsement--by Oprah Winfrey.
“Before I even opened, I knew one day I was like 'Gosh, I want to get on Oprah’s O-List or get on her Favorite Things List,” said Cake Bake Shop owner Gwendolyn Rogers.
That “one day” will be here before she knows it, because on March 10, the April issue of O, The Oprah Magazine will be released, featuring one of her cakes on the "O" List. And although it may feel like a whirlwind now, the selection process actually started last October through multiple rounds of submissions.
“We got through the second round and we shipped a bunch of cakes to New York where she was going to shoot all of her Favorite Things for Christmas… But they decided not to use the cake for that because they wanted to hold it for something a little more special and I was thinking, ‘What’s more special than Oprah’s Favorite Things list?'” Rogers wondered.
A feature on the cover, perhaps?
For that, we will have to wait and see. But I had to ask—how did she even begin to decide which cakes to submit?
“Obviously, I always send the Earl’s Court Chocolate Cake because that’s my number one. But I wanted to give her some options. I think I sent a birthday cake, a carrot cake which I knew that they would love and the other one we went was the mint chocolate chip cake...and that’s the one they seem to like,” she said.
How do you ensure that a cake arrives still looking pristine and Oprah-worthy? It sounds like a challenge, but Rogers already has it down to a science, literally, after shipping cakes from all over the country to herself and then dissecting them.
“I would take it apart little piece by piece and go ‘How do you do that?' Because it’s amazing to wrap your brain around how you ship something that’s made out of butter without having it melt. And to arrive so that it looks beautiful,” she said.
“I figured out how to do it and I added my own twist on it. When I did that I boxed up a cake, I flew to Los Angeles, I shipped it to myself and it got there two days after I got there and I opened it up and it was perfect and we’ve been doing it that way ever since,” she added.
Although we’d love to envision a personal phone call or visit from Oprah herself as the ultimate way to get the good news, that’s not how it happened.
“They sent me an email and it said something very vague like, ‘We loved it, it was great, thank you so much.’ And I sent an email back and said ‘So does that mean you like it?’ It’s almost like when my husband asked me to marry him. I was like, ‘Wait, what? Will you ask me again because I don’t think I heard you the first time,'” Rogers explained with a laugh.
Now, in addition to planning the opening of a second Cake Bake Shop location in Carmel City Center this fall, Rogers is also preparing for the high demand that comes along with “The Oprah Effect” by hiring an overnight staff to create 20 cakes each night. Those are then boxed up and frozen until orders start pouring in.
But each day, you can find her here, surrounded by families, couples, and on this particular day—guests who came all the way from France—to be enchanted by The Cake Bake Shop.
“This is the place you come where you forget what’s going on outside of the walls and the beautiful windows and the lights and the music… I feel like the fairy godmother,” Rogers said with a smile.